Maruti Suzuki will launch the electric version of the popular WagonR hatchback in India next year. The 2020 Auto Expo is likely to be the big event when Maruti launches the WagonR Electric. What will come as a bummer though is the fact that the car would be available only to cab aggregators such as Ola and Uber, and government agencies, and not for private buyers. R.C. Bhargava, the Chairman of Maruti Suzuki, just made this very clear when asked about the launch of the WagonR Electric during an interview with CNBCTV18.
In the interview, Mr Bhargava says that the cost of electric cars are still too prohibitive for most private car buyers, and this is especially true of small hatchbacks such as the WagonR Electric. He goes on to say that the battery pack for these cars are still quite costly, and these cars are currently meant for people who can take risks in terms of afforability. In other words, people running a business with electric cars are those who can afford the additional cost of replacing batteries and the lower range per charge. Private car buyers looking for affordability will have to wait as the WagonR is not likely to be priced under Rs. 10 lakhs. This high price tag, and a limited range of under 200 kilometers would make this car impractical for most private car buyers despite the huge savings on fuel costs.
Maruti Suzuki will focus on CNG powered cars for now. Electric cars are still a few years away from becoming practical for private car buyers, according to the Maruti Suzuki chairman. Currently, Maruti offers CNG on a slew of cars including the Alto, WagonR, Ertiga and Dzire models. Going forward, more cars with the CNG-Petrol dual fuel option would be launched, as an affordable, cost effective alternative to diesel powered cars. The Indian government is also pushing for more CNG powered cars. However, CNG dispensing infrastructure is yet to be available in most parts of the country, and only the bigger cities such as Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata have adequate CNG fuel stations.
Meanwhile, Hyundai is working on an affordable electric car for the Indian market, and the vehicle in question could be an SUV. The automaker has already marked its presence in the electric vehicle segment with the Kona Electric SUV, which has received tremendous response. Tata Motors is said to be developing a higher range Tigor EV sedan for private car buyers, and the Altroz and Nexon will also get electric variants shortly. MG Motor will launch the eZS electric SUV later this year, as a Hyundai Kona rival.